Brazil's Grains & Oilseeds Fed 10% of the Global Population in 2020

Published Mar 8, 2021
According to the state-run agricultural research agency Embrapa, Brazilian agri-food products fed approximately 10% of the world’s 7.76 billion population in 2020. Grains and oilseeds from the country are considered food staples in many countries, as they can either be used for direct human consumption or as animal feed for meat processing. The findings of the research conducted by Embrapa highlight Brazil’s strength as a global farming powerhouse. In recent decades, the country went from being a net food importer to become the world’s largest supplier of soybeans, beef, and chicken.

Based on Brazil’s grain output’s international prices calculated by the International Monetary Fund, Brazil fed 772.6 million people last year under this calculation, including more than half a billion abroad. In the other measure conducted by Embrapa, based on the country’s physical production of grains that deducted food imports, Brazil was found to have fed approximately 637 million people worldwide in 2020, including 212.3 million locally. Brazil’s global grain production has increased steadily over the past decade, accounting for 8% last year, up from 6% in 2011.

Brazil experiences positive agri-food export season in 2020

Brazil is the worlds leading exporter of soybean, and production for the 2020-21 crop year (September-August) is estimated to hit an all-time high on higher acreage and productivity, according to Companhia Nacional de Abastecimento (Conab), Brazil's national agricultural agency. Brazilian soybean production for the 2020-21 crop year is forecast to reach 134.95 million mt, an increase of 8.1% year on year and an all-time high. The country's soy yield is forecast at 3.53 mt/ha, an increase of 4.2% year on year, while acreage is forecast to grow by 3.5% to 38.25 million hectares. China, Brazil’s largest soybean market, purchased USD 20.9 billion in value of the oilseed, accounting for close to 75% of Brazil’s exports.

Brazilian Soybean Exports in 2020

Source: ITC Trade Map

Meat exports on the rise

Following a positive year for Brazilian grain and oilseed exports, meat exports experienced similar fortunes globally. Brazil is a major global beef exporter, and the country witnessed an 8% increase in 2020 to 2.02 million metric tons, according to the Brazilian beef industry association Abrafrigo. Beef export revenue rose by 11% in 2020, reaching USD 8.4 billion. Last year, China was Brazil’s largest beef market, purchasing 1.18 billion metric tons of imports through the continent and Hong Kong. Egypt was the second-largest at 127,953 metric tons, and the United States was among Brazil's top four beef importers last year, acquiring 59,544 metric tons, a 53.8% increase year-over-year. 2020 was also a successful year for Brazilian chicken export, totaling 4.23 million tons. China and Saudi Arabia were the major markets for the country. Exports were boosted by the country’s growing chicken output which increased by 4.2% to 13.8 million tonnes. Egypt increased imports of Brazilian poultry by 15% in 2020, while Jordan raised import volumes by 18%, and Yemen’s imports climbed 6.1 percent.

Brazilian exports set to increase in 2021

According to Conab, Brazilian grain production is set to reach record levels of 268.9 million tons this 2020-2021 harvest season, a 4.6% increase from the 2019-2020 season. Soybean, the main export product of Brazilian agriculture, is forecast to reach 135 million tons, which would maintain Brazil’s ranking as the world's largest producer of oilseed, with a cultivation area of 38.2 million hectares. Brazilian soy exports are set to reach 85 million tons in 2021, an increase of 2.78 percent from last year. Corn production is expected to be the largest on record in 2021 at 104.9 million tons from an area of 18.4 million hectares, which will propel corn exports to increase. 

(Cornfield in Brazil)

Brazil’s meat producers increased output for global markets in 2020 amid COVID-19 upsets and are expected to boost production in 2021. According to Abrafrigo, Brazilian beef exports are expected to rise by 5% in 2021, steered by the continuation of China's purchasing pace and an anticipated increase in imports from the EU, Arab countries, and new markets due to the improvement in the global economic situation thanks to the start of the vaccination against COVID-19. Brazil was the world's largest chicken exporter, and in 2021, the country’s chicken production is set to increase. The government is set to raise chicken output by 5.5 percent in 2021 to 14.5 million tonnes, allowing exports to rise by 3.6% to 4.35 million tonnes.


> Reuters. “Brazil feeds some 10% of world's population, research finds.

> S&P Global Platts. “Brazil 2020-21 soybean output forecast at all-time high despite delayed start: Conab.”

> Drovers. “Brazilian Beef Exports At Record Levels.

> The Poultry Site. “Brazil’s meat supply has increased despite pandemic – ABPA report.

> The Poultry Site. “Brazil increases poultry exports to Egypt, Jordan and Yemen, but posts decline in 2020 in Middle East.

> Xinhua Net. “Brazil forecasts record grain output in 2020-2021 harvest season.

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